When the taxman comes and you have paid your dues, you obviously would like a timeline indicating when you will get your tax refund. Depending on when you filed your taxes, you could receive that check earlier or later than you think.
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When You Will Get Your Tax Refund
You can estimate when you’ll receive your funds — the IRS issues most refunds less than 21 days after filing. So generally, you can expect to get your tax refund within about three weeks after you file your tax return.
Tax Refund Timeline Estimations
Here’s a comprehensive overview of the tax refund process.
How To Track Your Tax Refund
The IRS website offers a “Where’s My Refund?” tool that enables you to track your refund after you’ve filed your income tax return. You can also track your refund through the IRS2Go app with the same information. You will see one of the following statuses on the site:
- Return received
- Refund approved
- Refund sent
What You’ll Need
To track your refund, you’ll need your Social Security number, your filing status and the exact amount of your refund.
For filing status, you’ll have to choose from the following options:
- Married-Filing Joint Return
- Married-Filing Separate Return
- Head of Household
- Qualifying Widow(er)
Providing all of these personal details helps protect your information and avoids anyone else accessing your tax return data. If you’re wondering, “Where’s my tax refund?” — this is how you find out the exact answer.
Typically, you can start tracking your return one day after you file if you submit your return electronically. But if you mail in a paper tax return, it takes about one month.
How To Get Your Tax Refund Faster
No matter how you plan on using your tax refund, you’re probably anxious to receive it. Here are a few steps you can take to improve your chances of getting your tax refund quickly:
- File early: In general, the sooner you file, the sooner you will get your refund.
- Check your return for errors or omissions: When the IRS needs to contact you for additional information, it slows down how quickly you receive your refund.
- Use e-file to have your refund directly deposited into your bank account: With direct deposit, it might take a few days for the refund to show up in your account, depending on your financial institution.
- Make sure your direct deposit account is in your name: The IRS can only deposit a check into an account in your name, your spouse’s name or a joint account.
Note that returns claiming certain tax credits might not get processed any earlier than late February. Specifically, taxpayers taking advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit and/or the Additional Child Tax Credit may have to go through this wait.
Why Your Tax Refund Might Be Delayed
The IRS lists the following issues that might extend the tax refund processing time and delay your refund:
- Amended return refunds take about 16 weeks.
- You’re filing an injured spouse claim.
- You’re renewing an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).
There’s also a three refunds-per-year limit on the number of direct deposits going into a single account.
To avoid a delay in the future, consider changing your tax withholding for next year. That way, instead of waiting for a refund for overpaying your taxes all year, you’ll keep that cash in your pocket every paycheck. Just make sure you don’t overcorrect and end up owing taxes.